Patient FAQs

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is the branch of dentistry that specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental and facial irregularities. Braces and Invisalign aligners are appliances used to make these corrections.

What is an Orthodontist?

An Orthodontist is a highly trained specialist who has completed two to three years of post-graduate training after graduation from dental school. An orthodontist straightens teeth and makes corrections to the bite.

Why should I choose an Orthodontic specialist?

It is very important that treatment be done properly. A licensed orthodontic specialist is an expert at moving teeth, helping jaws develop properly, and working with you to help make sure the teeth stay in their new positions. We will work closely with your dentist (and other specialist necessary).

Why should I have orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontic treatment improves your smile and your health. Straight teeth will be much easier to clean and help you maintain good oral health.

When should my child be seen?

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children be screened around the age of 7. We will evaluate your child and if your child needs treatment we can take corrective action to reduce the severity of a developing problem. We will follow your child as they grow and develop to determine the most appropriate time to begin orthodontic treatment.

What are the early symptoms of orthodontic problems and how can I look for them?

It is important that you examine your child’s mouth as the permanent teeth grow in. Do they line up with the bottom teeth with no spaces or gaps? Are the teeth straight? Are gaps or overlapping (crowding) present? When your child bites down does the center of the front top teeth line up with the center of the front bottom teeth? Do the upper front teeth (incisors) slightly overlap the lower front teeth, not sticking out like ”buck” teeth and not hitting directly on the tops of or behind the lower front teeth? Do the top front teeth overlap more than 25% of the bottom teeth? Do the teeth come together smoothly, or are there any gaps?

If your child’s teeth do not come together smoothly, or if any of your child’s teeth do not line up properly your child may need orthodontic treatment.

Look at the alignment of your child’s jaw. Does your child’s jaw shift off center when they clench their teeth together? Does the contour of their face in profile look normal to you?

If you see any of the above symptoms, or are just not sure, please bring your child in for an orthodontic evaluation.

What type of treatment can be done with a young child?

Interceptive treatment may be done when growth modification is needed for children between the ages of 7 and 9. The goal of interceptive treatment is to correct a specific problem that is interfering with growth and development. Treatment time usually ranges between 9 and 12 months.

Examples include Slow/Rapid Palatal Expansion (to make the upper jaw wider); Space Maintenance Appliance (to hold arch perimeter space); Lip Bumper; “Functional” appliances such as the Herbst, Carrierer, etc.; limited use of braces, and more.

What is the treatment goal for adolescents?

The goal is to correct the alignment of the teeth and the jaws during and after the eruption of all the permanent teeth. Treatment time usually ranges between 18 and 24 months. The most ideal time for treatment is during the adolescent growth spurt (puberty) because some growth modification can be done and most of the permanent teeth are fully erupted or erupting. In the young person who has moderately crowded teeth it is very important to start their treatment just as the last four baby teeth are due to be lost (the primary second molars). Sometimes this can prevent the loss of permanent teeth.

I’m an adult, what can braces do for me?

Orthodontics can correct the alignment of the teeth at any age. Sometimes we need to work with maxillofacial surgeons for correct jaw alignment in adults as growth is not available to help us achieve treatment goals. Orthodontics can be done at any age if the bone and gum tissue around the teeth are healthy. With adults we occasionally need to make space for crowns, implants or bridges when teeth have shifted to poor positions, often the result of early loss of teeth due to decay, gum disease, or trauma. We also treat adults who were treated as adolescents and experienced relapse due to inadequate retainer wear, physiologic shifting of the teeth, or continued genetic growth patterns that persisted after the original treatment was completed.

I’ve heard a lot about Invisalign or clear braces. That sounds like something I’d like.

Invisalign or “Invisible Braces” is a series of 3-D computer generated clear removable appliances called aligners. These are an excellent choice for adults or teens. Dr Paz is an elite preferred provider and has more than 10 years experience.

How do braces or Invisalign straighten crooked teeth?

Orthodontic appliances, either fixed (bonded to the teeth) like braces or removable like Invisalign, use steady gentle pressure over time to move teeth into their proper positions. With braces the bends and shapes we make in the wires are the things that actually move the teeth. We use different size wires during the various stages of treatment to make these movements. The wire puts pressure against the braces that are bonded to the teeth just as the series of Invisalign aligners place pressure directly on the crowns of the teeth. With the teeth resting in the jawbone and pressure on one side the bone on the other side gradually gives way and remodels. This causes the tooth to move.

Do I need a referral from a dentist to see an Orthodontist?

No. Many of our patients come from “word of mouth recommendations” from friends and family members. We appreciate all referrals, whether from your dentist or a friend, and if you like our office we would be happy if you would tell others about us.

I like the different colors I see on braces, can I get them too?

Yes, depending on the type of braces you choose.

I participate in sports. Are there any precautions I should take with my braces?

We recommend wearing a soft sports mouth guard when participating in contact sports.

How long do braces take to put on?

Placing braces can take anywhere from one to two hours.

I have “TMJ”. Can braces help me?

Everyone has “TMJ”. Mother Nature has given each of us two jaw joints, one of each side of the lower jaw, and they are called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. What you are describing is TMD or some type of temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Braces may or may not improve jaw joint problems and more conservative approaches should be tried first.

Are braces covered by insurance and do I have to pay for them all at once?

Many dental plans now include orthodontic treatment; however most plans only cover a portion of the treatment costs. Please check with your insurance provider before seeking care to determine if orthodontic procedures are covered. We offer various payment options. We will be glad to review this with you at your initial exam.

Does it hurt to get braces on?

No, they are bonded directly to your teeth.

Do you tighten my braces and will that hurt?

No, you will have wire changes, but we don’t tighten your braces. Most patients experience some discomfort the first 1-2 days after an adjustment is made.

What about my wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth do not normally interfere with orthodontic treatment. If they are bothering you we may recommend removal of them prior to orthodontic treatment.

Do I still need to see my dentist if I have braces on?

Yes, your dentist will follow you every six months for regular cleanings and check ups. Some patients are seen more often during orthodontic treatment, depending on the guidance of the dentist and/or orthodontist.

How long do I need to wear retainers?

Forever, or as long as you want straight teeth.

Do I need an appointment if something happens to my braces or can I just “stop by”?

You need to call the office if you have a problem with your braces to set up an appointment. We usually have same day emergency visits available and it is our goal to make sure you are comfortable.

What if I have a problem and you are not open?

In case of an EXTREME EMERGENCY, such as a trauma or injury, please call our office for instructions. We always have an assistant that is on call. Remember, true emergencies are rare.